“A real hockey shame.” Latvia was shoved into the MFM instead of Russia, and she made a sensation

Elena Kuznetsova

Elena Kuznetsova

What happens at the MFM-2022 hockey

When they didn’t expect anything from you and even laughed at you, and you used your chance by 200%.

Today is a historic day for Latvian hockey. The team of Artis Abols got into the 2022 World Youth Championship only because of the exclusion of the Russian national team from the tournament, but they squeezed everything and even more out of this opportunity, surprising everyone.

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Latvia will replace the youth team of Russia at the MFM-2022

Nothing was expected from the Latvian youth team – participation in the elite division itself was already considered a success. They started the tournament slowly – 1:6 with Finland and 2:5 with Canada. However, Abols encouraged his guys every time. “A defeat is a defeat, but we have shown that we can play. I was not ashamed on the bench, ”he said after the match with the Maple Leaves.

The most realistic chance to cling to the top four was to be a match with Slovakia, which also started the tournament with two losses, but Latvia lost in shootouts. Nevertheless, the chances of reaching the quarterfinals still remained, for this it was necessary to beat the Czech Republic.

Perhaps it was the fact that Latvia had a day off before the final match of the group round, while the Czechs played the second time in two days, while in the previous match they suffered a sensitive defeat from Canada. Or the fact that the Czechs, even before the start of the game, secured access to the next stage.

Be that as it may, the Latvians came out charged and opened the scoring already in the fifth minute, and after eight minutes they strengthened their advantage. The Czechs started up, seized the initiative and equalized the score by the middle of the match, but then Latvian captain Ralf Bergmanis took matters into his own hands. The defender scored a hat-trick, and goalkeeper Bruno Bruveris withstood the powerful pressure of the Czechs in the third period, reflecting all 17 shots on goal. Latvia not only beat the Czech Republic at the MFM for the first time in history, but also for the first time made it to the quarterfinals of the tournament – why not a Cinderella story?

Ralph Bergmanis

Ralph Bergmanis

Photo: iihf.com

“In the beginning, everyone was joking with us, saying that we should be happy just to be here. But we made history and we are here to win. Yesterday the players gathered without coaches and everyone was talking about winning today’s game. We are like one big family,” said one of the main characters of the match, Bergmanis.

In the Czech Republic, the defeat was taken painfully. “We lost to a team that was not even supposed to play at the MFM,” wrote Hokej.cz. “A real hockey disgrace,” Sport.cz concluded.

“We got a slap in the face, but it’s even good. Now we will prepare for the quarterfinals and will do everything to show the maximum that we are capable of, ”said striker Tomasz Urban.

“We basically didn’t play, we didn’t have a game for two-thirds of the match, so there couldn’t have been any other result. With this game, we spoiled the whole impression of ourselves, which we had been working on throughout the tournament. It’s not fatigue, it’s excuses. The point is in the head, in motivation and pride, which we didn’t have today, ”said the head coach of the Czechs Radim Rulik.

Latvians have already jumped more than their heads, but they are not afraid to dream big. “We’re not done yet!” – said striker Martin Lavinsh. Latvia took third place in Group A and does not yet know its opponent in the quarterfinals (unlike the Czechs, who went to the winner of Group B in the USA). And if another sensation happens, and Germany beats Sweden in the final match of the group, then Latvia’s chances to continue its success story will increase. In any case, the Latvians used their unexpected chance by 200%.

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